Graduate Course Listings

16:988:603 Feminist Knowledge Production (3 credits)

  • Instructor: Jasbir Puar
  • Course Delivery: W 34 1210 P - 0310
  • Current Course Description: We are in the midst of political upheaval and struggles that will dominate our lifetimes and lifetimes to come: the rise of authoritarian governments under the guise of democracy; engulfing forms of disaster capitalism, climate change, and ecocide; refugee, immigration, and crises of abandoned populations; unprecedented levels of mass incarceration, policing, and counter terrorism surveillance; the consolidation of post-1971 speculative financial markets and the sustaining of US empire through privatized debt and deficit economies; repression of political protest, freedom of speech rights, and the right to assembly; the failure of human rights to stem state violence; and local, regional, transnational and global modes of resistance, refusal, and revolt.  This class focuses on theoretical texts that resonate with our contemporary political struggles and those on the horizon. Reading these works from feminist, queer, postcolonial, settler colonial, critical disability and critical race studies, we will trace the debates, dialogues and interventions pivotal to the production of feminist knowledge production over the last several decades. While only some of these books are explicitly feminist projects and/or gender studies, each is situated in a critical nexus of different inter/disciplines, field formations, intertextual debates, and genealogies of thought. Furthermore, they have been selected in part because rather than foregrounding subjectivity, subject formation, identity, or national location, they develop alternative analytics for systems and structures that span international scales--legal apparatuses, maiming as global governance, debt as spatial enclosure, the biopolitics of settler colonialism, racial capitalism, the commodification of violence--that critically engage and impact relations of gender, race, class, disability, nationhood.  In addition, we will highlight the pragmatics and materiality of the production aspect of knowledge, looking very specifically at how knowledge is dialectically and dialogically created and implicate numerous actors despite authorial attribution. We will focus on intertextual exchange, citational practices, convergences and departures from disciplinary and field norms and expectations, and the repurposing of canonical work for critical race feminist interventions, postcolonial feminist theory, and transnational feminist analysis. We will pay special attention to the literal production of knowledge, highlighting the relationships to capitalist production embedded in the elements constructing a book: the acknowledgements, the chapter structures, the marketing and circulation, the citational strategy, the form and use of footnotes, the use of primary and secondary texts and archives, the choice of press, the process of research involved in creating the text, the institutional conditions within which the project came about, the politics of tenure, recognition, and reception.  

This course is an introduction to many of the methods used in feminist interdisciplinary research. The course looks at how to formulate a research question, collect data, interpret and analyze evidence, and report research results. This methodological overview raises broader issues about the relationship among theory, methods, and research goals. In other words, do certain research problems impose methodological restrictions? Does reliance on some methods rather than others limit what we can know? In addition, the course will review various assessments and critiques of different research methods. Finally, the course will be a forum to apply knowledge of methods and methodologies to students’ own research and research-activist interests.